History of the Blueface Hatch by J.D. Perry
By J.D. Perry
Lum Gilmore got a cock from Ted McLean it was a small stationed cock ran around Gilmore place for sometime and there were no hens with him. He was said to be a hard hitter, and when cockers stooped by they sparred him to show how hard he could hit. When sparred or exerted in any way he turned blue in the face, hence the name blue face. Sweater McGinnis was around Gilmore`s place at Bay City, TX at the time, he finally brought over one of his Madigin regular grey hens as company for the cock. Some stags and pullets were raised from that mating. Sometime before that two hens were stolen from Hatch on Long Island and given to Sweater. And not long after that Sweater was inducted into the service. He put the two hatch hens with E.W. Law to keep for him until he returned, when he got out, he immediately got in touch with Law to get the hens.Law told him one had died ,but he sent Sweater the other one. One of the 1/2 grey 1/2 blue face cock was bred to the stolen Hatch hen and the progeny of that mating were known as the blue face fowl.
The following is told by Harry Parr whom Ted McLean gave all of his fowl. In the spring of 1949, Ted McLean had two beautifully bred "straight" (being McLean Hatch) stags, one of which he wanted to breed. They were full brothers, well made, green legged, weighted about 4:10, and you could not have told them apart except one was a roundhead. His wing clip was 40-90; the square comb, 48-96. Ted decided to heel them up and fight them which they did in his pit in the barn. The square comb proved to be the better fighter and cutter, and when he blinded the roundhead, Ted said he had seen enough to cut the head off the roundhead. Well Harry had handled the roundhead and when he was on his hands he could tell all the roundhead wanted to do was get at the other stag. After being pitted, he would search and as soon as contact was made, explode. so Harry said he would take him home and see what he could do. After a couple of weeks he regained the sight of one eye and was soon back in good health. He bred this stag two years and one day Ted asked Harry if he would mind sending him to Lun Gilmore. Lun wanted a cock and at the time, Ted did not have a really good one to spare. Harry shipped the cock and later learned that Lun and Pete Frost bred him to a hen that Ted had previously given to Pete. The hen was 47-65, by Green Leg cock number 2, the "straight" stuff out of hen number 81 which was a Morgan Whitehackle from Heinie Mathesius (none of the "straight" stuff on the hen side ever got out) Prior to this Ted had given Pete Frost, Green Leg cock number 53 which became the sire of the "Frost Cherries" They had also bred this cock to hen 47-65 and sent Harry and Ted a stag from that mating, which was called , after Lun, the "Alligator Cock" Sweater McGinnis was involved in their fighting activities at this time, and it was from these three birds that the Blueface emerged. (Hen 47-65, Cock 53, Cock 48-90) The next time Harry saw Sweater was January 1958 in Orlando. He told Harry, these "Blue Face" were the gamest chickens he had ever seen and that he kept the seed stock pure just make battle crosses. He asked Harry if he would let him have another cock and Harry sent him cock 57-340 (Harry was fortunate to get this cock back after Sweaters death thanks to Willis Holking) He also told Harry not to worry, that he didn't let the "straight" one go but they all fought under the name of "Blue Face" At the time, his favorite were one quarter Blue face, one quarter Regular Grey and one half Leiper, bred in various combinations. Like all of them, Willis experimented with many crosses and blend in an effort to produce superior battle cocks but recognized the value of keeping the seed stock pure.
Here's an article by Art Hefner written on the April issue of the Gamecock 1985. "I have read several articals about the BLUEFACE containing CHET blood. About 1956 or 1957 I was visiting at Pineville Farms with Big Red Sweater McGinnis and naturally, we were only talking chickens. On this particular day Big Red Sweater was in a wonderful mood. On asking why he was so jolly, he told me he got one of his pure Blueface cocks off a walk, of which they had walks by the hundreds. this particular Blueface weighed slightly over 4-08 pound. Sweater was elated. This was the biggest, pure Blueface he had raised in years. So you see, they were intensely inbreed. I asked him if the cocks weren't any larger, how small were the pure hens? He got a bucket of feed an called the chickens up. He showed me two hens and told me they were the purest and only two of the pure. And if they had showed up on my yard unknowingly, I would have killed them, never expecting to see anything like them as Blueface. They may have weighed 2 or 2 1/2 pounds. And behold! they were black with brown spots on their breast. Like a Sebright Bantam, with legs a couple of inches long. He never told me what kind of black blood was in them, but by their color, they were heavy in some kind. Ever what kind, they were the hardest hitting cocks I've ever seen. Nearly ever successful cockfighter and breeder today has some of this blood. But most have only a small amount. As to the pure, there was precious few let out, (Including me). When breeders have "pure" Blueface cocks that go 6 pounds, or even 5 pounds, they can do more with them than the old master breeder, himself, could do. Later I'll tell more about this. This article was not written to create any controversy. Just telling you the facts as it was told to me by one of the GREATEST BREEDERS and cockfighters of our times. I was proud and honored to know this man personally. SO BE IT.
History of the Blueface Hatch by Lou Elliot
By Lou Elliott(1977)
For you folks who never knew Sweater, a brief background sketch might be of interest. He was born southwest of Oklahoma City near Chickasha about 1905. For much of his early life, he stayed with his uncle, Dave Lane, a druggist in Oklahoma City. Dave Lane was one of the best of the old time chicken fighters. In the early 1920's while Sweater was still a teenager, he handled a main of cocks from Frank Perry and Sap Barrett against the legendary Henry Wortham - and won with his last four cocks to win the main. This was at the old Shell Creek Pit near Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Sweater was a professional cocker in every sense of the word. Except for a short hitch in the military service in World War II, he spent his lifetime working with game fowl. He was in great demand as a feeder and handler, and he spent considerable time with John Madigan, Walter Kelso, Jack Walton, etc. With his conditioning method, he could build stronger thighs on a cock than any feeder I ever knew - they would be as hard and big around as the average man's wrist. They were so strong that his cocks frequently broke their own legs. As a handler, Sweater never missed a trick, legal or otherwise. It is fitting that he died in the pit with a gamecock in his arm - at the Boxwood Pit in Virginia on 19 December 1959. Sweater had hundreds of chickens raised for him each year but until he moved to North Carolina in 1954 to work for Percy Flowers at Pineville Farms, none of them were specifically called the Blueface family.
That is, no particular combination of bloodlines could be pointed out as Blueface to the exclusion of all others. They were all simply referred to as McGinnis Reds or Grays, depending on the color. Sweater never advertised his fowl, didn't like to sell them and almost never did, but he gave most of them away. His usual breeding method was to place a cock and six hens on a farm walk where they could reproduce freely. In the fall, Sweater would pick up what stags he wanted and tell the farmer to eat the rest of them. Thus a great deal of Sweater's stock was available to anyone who knew where he walked his fowl. Many so-called Blueface families today are based on fowl obtained from these farm walks and contain not a touch of the McLean hatch usually associated with the name Blueface. The bloodlines that Sweater used in various combinations and which appear in some of the modern Blueface lines include the Madigan Texas Rangers, which I believe are primarily the old Joe Wingate Brown Reds. When Sweater was in charge of Madigan's brood yards in Houston in the late 1930's, a great many of the cocks and hens were carrying a fourth or more of this Texas Ranger breeding. When Madigan died in 1942, Kelso and Japhet inherited his fowl which were all shipped to Kelso's place in Galveston. Sweater set up the various brood yards and Kelso and Japhet alternated in choosing which ones they wanted. But Kelso didn't like the Clarets not to mention the Rangers - so Sweater took what he wanted of those. Sometime later, Sweater decided he needed more speed in his fowl and someone sold him a family of Three Spurs from Washington State. These cocks had a normal spur plus a rudimentary spur above and below it. I know of at least one modern family of Blueface that show this trait and some of the cocks cannot be heeled properly until these small spurs are clipped off. I understand the black Sumatra Jungle Fowl and their descendants have this odd spur formation.
Sweater fought a lot of the Sam Bigham fowl - a Marsh Butcher/Claret cross. This is one of the sources for the rare white leg that shows up in some Blueface. He also had some Kearney stock he got from up North. A particular favorite of Sweater's was his Jim Thompson Mahoganies, as bred by Bob Lang of Long Island, New York. Sweater called these Thompsons his secret weapon and left them in oklahoma when he went to North Carolina. He didn't know how the deal with Percy Flowers would work out, and he was hedging his bets by leaving the Thompsons and several other yards of his "seed stock" with friends he trusted. He left some of his McLean speed stock with an old Okie friend in Arizona and most of the Thompsons with Billy "The Barber" Atchley of Oklahoma City, who in turn supplied Sweater with some really good Butcher fowl. After Sweater died, the brood yards he left at Pineville deteriorated and much of the reason could be a lack of access to these Oklahoma seed stock fowl. In addition to these red fowl, Sweater raised a lot of grays - primarily Madigin Regular Grays but also some from Frost and Kelso. These were frequently combined with various red fowl, and the resulting offspring were either McGinnis Reds or McGinnis Grays even though they were full brothers but different colors. I have a picture I made of a full plumaged gray cock in 1949 while visiting Sweater and Lun Gilmore at Jack Walton's place in Dallas. Sweater told me that all his battle cocks that year were carrying some of this cock's bloodlines. Incidentally, note that this is Lun, not Lum Gilmore, which is the way it is normally spelled. Much of the material this article is based on came out of that meeting. I believe that Gilmore was Jack Walton's brother-in-law and I will discuss his role in the Blueface story later on.
Until now, I haven't discussed the "real" Blueface. The fowl I have mentioned in the previous paragraphs do appear in many of the modern Blueface lines, but Sweater wouldn't have considered them the real thing. To properly describe the evolution of the Blueface, I first have to establish the historical perspective. To do this, I have to mention two other profesional cockers: J.D. Perry of Oklahoma City and the inimitable Max Thaggard who is still pitting them around Guthrie, Oklahoma. In the early 1940's, the team of J.D. Perry and Karl Bashara was the "class" entry at all the Oklahoma Pit's. Karl's Shufflers and J.D.'s ability as a feeder and handler made a combination that was hard to beat. When C.C. Cooke of Oklahoma City bought "all" of the Sandy Hatch fowl for $2,500 and then joined forces with E.W. Law in Florida, they hired J.D. to run their show. J.D. crossed Cooke's Hatch with Law's Clarets to make the now famous Hatch-Clarets that revolutionized long heel cocking. "Power/Speed Blends" became a household word - at least in the cockhouse. About the same time, Max Thaggard bred an old one-eyed Frost Gray cock (that Bobby Manziel had given him) over some brown red hens. The resulting offspring became the "Vibrators," the greatest infighters (cutting to the breast) that I or most likely any man ever saw. For a too brief period, they were unstoppable. After losing all too many fights to the Hatch-Clarets and those speckle-bellied Vibrators, Sweater started out to go them one better. He came up with the bright idea of combining the Hatch-Claret type fowl with the Gray-Brown Reds and beat everybody. Sweater's friend Lun Gilmore had a sickly looking, pale headed old buff hen that normally would have been killed, but she was supposed to be one of the very few good Hatch chickens to ever leave Ted McLean's place. Presumably she was carrying some Morgan Whitehackle breeding, as many of the McLean fowl did, because on rare occasions she would produce some spangled looking offspring. However the Jim Thompson fowl on which the original Hatch were based also produce about 10 percent spangles and sometimes even a pure white. In fact I have seen White Hatch fowl that their breeder was reluctant to claim as Hatch for fear others would accuse him of poor record keeping.
Lun may have got this hen from Pete Frost but they both shared her so to speak. Frost got McLean to send them a Hatch cock to mate to this old hen. McLean owed Frost a favor but he wasn't too happy to see his bloodlines scattered around. So he sent them a cock all right - a little 4:02 blinker peacomb bird he intended to kill anyway. When this little runty little cock was sparred, he really put on a show. He could hit as hard as a shake. These south Texas boys were used to seeing the shotgun type cocks, and one that that could hit so hard was something new. They bred him to the old pale headed hen just to see what the pair would produce. That first year they raised about 20 chicks and fought the stags with mediocre success. One of the few that won was rattled and would turn dark in the face when he was sparred. Sweater took this "Old Blueface" cock to breed to some hens he liked that were a mixture of Madigan Gray and Leiper Hatch. Thus was started the first attempt to breed a family of Blueface, although they were not really called by that name. It was that first old pale headed hen that really started things. It so happened that most of her chicks also showed that sickly pale face. Somebody told Sweater that the old hen was a disease carrier (Leukosis) and that he ought to kill her and all her offspring. Sweater didn't like those "damned blue faced chickens" but he wasn't ready to give up on them. They all had well rounded bodies and felt good in his hands, they just looked pale - even the cocks in good condition. Sweater took some of the "damned blue faced chickens" to the poultry experts at Texas A&M College to see what was wrong. After some tests, they told him the chickens were perfectly healthy. The pale head was caused by an inherited genetic abnormality. To get rid of it, Sweater would have to raise a lot of young stock and keep the red faced ones for his future brood stock. That year, Sweater and his friends hatched over 500 chickens from the old hen and her daughters. They only produced two red faced pullets - no stags.
When J.D. Perry left Cooke's employ in 1948 to go to work for G.A.C. Halff at Quien Sabe Ranch near San Antonio, he took the best of the Hatch fowl with him. These Hatch were primarily the Jim Thompson/J.W.E. Clarke/Kearney bloodlines with an added touch of this and that. The McLean fowl were the same basic bloodlines but showed less of the yellow leg breeding. The pea combs came from the old Boston Roundhead that was in the Duryea fowl which appears in the pedigrees of both Clarke and Kearney families. The Kearney stock at that time was a combination of his Irish Brown Reds and Whitehackles, plus the Duryea and Joe Wingate stock. So this was the source of the green legs. At any rate, Sweater and J.D. traded some Hatch fowl, and in 1958, J.D. was advertising Blueface for sale. The pure McLeans were comparatively slow, single stroke, ground fighters. They had the suicidal tendency of sticking their necks out while reaching for a billhold. A cock like that just doesn't win many fights in first class long heel competition. So Sweater tried various crosses with those "damned blue face chickens." Most of the crosses produced just average fighting cocks. A few showed promise but wouldn't pass their good qualities onto the next generation. The one cross he tried though that seemed to add just the edge he was looking for was with Karl Bashara's Shufflers. He also got some Brown Reds from "old Man" Starnes of Konowa, Oklahoma. I had always heard this was and old Irish family of Brown Reds but my buddy for 40 years - Old Lunch Money, himself - recently published an article quoting Mr. Starnes as saying his fowl were just the Bashara Shufflers with a touch of Madigan Gray.
Sweater also got the D.H. Pierce Wisconsin Red Shufflers from various other breeders. By trying out many different combinations, he developed just the right combination of Hatch/Shuffler and his other bloodlines that he could win with. And win he did. He set a fantastic record in the five short years he was working for Percy Flowers in North Carolina. In 1957, he entered the Lally Memorial Stag Derby in Pennsylvania. This was the premier short heel (1-1/4" gaffs) event of each year. This was the first time Sweater ever conditioned cocks for a short heel event and the first time he ever conditioned a full show of stags for a major event. (None of the major pits in the south ever scheduled stag derbies or touranments. So Sweater had always fought two year old cocks.) He won nine, lost one to take first money. The one loss was to a Jim Thompson stag owned by Bob Lang, who was responsible for one of Sweater's seed stock lines. The short heel men said the 1957 win was a fluke and that Sweater wouldn't have a chance next time. So he entered the Lally in 1958 and won it by the same identical score, nine wins and one loss. Now the boys were convinced that this Okie was pretty foxy so they decided to keep their and not enter the event in 1959.
The pit management finally got an entry list together though, and sure enough Sweater didn't win this time - he only took second with eight wins and two losses. As a final tribute to a real "chickenman" I can think of nothing more appropiate than the words "Spectator" used in describing Sweater's stags at the 1957 Lally Memorial Derby. Remember that these stags were the direct descendants of those "damned blue faced chickens" produced by a sickly face, pale headed old hen and a runty little 4:02 cock that had been destined for the chopping block. "The best the north and the east could produce was lined up against them, and they made a runaway of the show. They were fast, terrific bucklers, hard hitters, good cutters, aggressive finishers. Their legs reached out a mile with every stroke, they delivered their blows with a snap, and usually every punch landed where it counted. The only fight they lost was a quick one shot affair to the brain in the first few seconds, which sort of thing can and will happen to everybody who is meeting top grade fowl." (written by Spectator, 1957).
Comments on Lou Elliots Article Regarding the History of Blueface Hatch
By Gus Firthiof, Sr. (1977)
I read with interest "The Blue Face Story" by Lou Elliott. Someone has misinformed him about some of the data contained in the article. Here is an example: Madigin's Texas Rangers did not contain any of the Joe Wingate brown Red blood. The Rangers do not come Brown Red, but dark black-reds with an iridescent green sheen and luster to the feathers on their backs when the sun shines on them. The hens are some crow black, some crow black with dark reddish hackles. All dark legs, all 100% straight combs. Sweater McGinnis never was in charge of any brood yards of Col. Madigin's at Houston, Texas because Madigin did not breed any of his fowl there. His fowl were raised in Canada, at Niagara Farm, where he had caretakers to look after them the year 'round. After over 35 years of research I have come to the conclusion that the Duryea Whitehackles did not contain any Boston Roundhead blood. Many of the Duryea cocks are golden yellow birchen in color, with yellow legs.
History of the Blueface Hatch by Unknown
In the spring of 1949, Ted McLean had two beautifully bred "straight" stags, one of which he wanted to breed. They were full brothers, well made, green legged, weighed about four ten, and you really could not have told them apart except one was a Roundhead. His wing clip was 48-90; the square comb, 48-96. Ted decided to heel them up and fight them which we did in his pit in the barn. The square comb proved to be the better fighter, cutter, and when he blinded the Roundhead, Ted said he had seen enough and to cut the head off the Roundhead. Well, I had handled the Roundhead and when he was in my hands you could tel all he wanted to do was get at the other stag. After being pitted, he would search and soon as contact was made, explode. So, I said I would take him home and see what I could do. After a couple of weeks he regained the sight of one eye and was soon back in good health.
I bred this stag two years and one day Ted asked me if I would mind sending him to Lun Gilmore. Lun wanted a cock and at that time Ted did not have a really good one to spare. I shipped the cock and later learned that Lun and Pete Frost bred him to a hen that Ted had previously given to Pete. This hen was 47-65, by Green Leg Cock no. 2, the "straight stuff" out of hen no. 81 which was a Morgan Whitehackle from Heinie Mathesius. (You see none of the "straight stuff" on the hen side ever got out.)
Prior to this Ted had given Pete Frost Green Leg Cock no. 53 which became the sire of the Frost "Cherries". They had also bred this cock to hen 47-65 and sent us a stag from that mating which we called, after Lun, the "Alligator Cock". Sweater McGinnis was involved in their fighting activities at this time, and it was from these three birds that the Blue Face emerged, i.e. Hen 47-65, Cock 53, Cock 48-90.
The next time I saw Sweater was January 1958 in Orlando. He told me these "Blue Face" were the gamest chickens he had ever seen and that he kept the seed stock pure just to make battle crosses. He asked me if I would let him have another cock and I sent him Cock 57-340. (I was fortunate to get this cock back after Sweater death thanks to Willis Holding.) He also told me not to worry, that he didn't let the "straight" ones go but that they all fought under the name of "Blue Face". At one time, his favorites were one quarter Blue Face, one quarter Regular Grey and one half Leiper, bred in various combinations. Like all of us, he experimented with many crosses and blends in an effort to produce superior battle cocks, but recognized the value of keeping the seed stock pure.
The McLean Hatch come both green legged and yellow legged, single comb and pea-comb. The hens are wheaten or "dirty" partridge, and the cocks red. They vary in shades from dark mahogany to light reds with white under hackles and white in wings and tail. The latter are usually single comb yellow legged, reverting back to the Kearney Whitehackles. Most of the cocks' breasts are flecked with brown and quite a few come with lemon hackles at the shoulders. The Blue face are all green legged with single or pea-combs. Hens are dark wheaten or partridge and cocks run more to the mahogany red. Most have brown feathers in the breast but few come lemon hackled. There are no exceptions to the above.
In summation, I would like to say I have tried to adhere strictly to the purpose of this paper being the origin and make-up of these two strains. I have intentionally omitted all extraneous information, details of breeding, fighting and the like, the inclusion of which would fill a book.
I hope this answers the questions of those who are interested.
The Origin of the Blue Face Hatch
By Jack Powers The following is written for express purpose of adding light to the Origin of the Ted McLean Blue Face Hatch, and also to the breeding of the Sweater McGinnis Blue Face Hatch.
The information which I am about to disclose, was relayed to me by people involved directly, namely, Heinie Mathesius and Sweater, both of who could be considered tops in our sport.
Everyone must agree that Ted McLean was the founder of the strain which has become so popular, that hundreds of breeders have infused the blood into their favorite fowl, to improve their power and cutting ability.
While returning from the Lally Memorial, in Scranton, PA., (where Sweater had just won 9-1). My party and I met Heinie Mathesius at a diner in Milford, PA, and the conversation, naturally, was about the remarkable stags Sweater had shown.
During the conversation, and comments, Heinie told the story about the start of the McLean Blueface. He stated that he had received a phone call from Ted McLean, asking him if he had a green legged cock which he could send down to him in Maryland, as he wanted to try one over a green legged hen. Mr. McLean was a personal friend of Mr. Hatch and had been breeding Hatch fowl for many years having spent many of his boyhood years at Mr. Hatch’s place, on Long Island, NY. As it so happened, Heinie was preparing a main of cocks for Mr. Hatch, and among them was a green legged cock that was apparently healthy in every way, but while working on the bench, would turn blue in the head. Heinie stated that he shipped this cock to Mr. McLean and he was mated to a green legged hen. The result was the McLean Blue Face Hatch which became so successful.
In regards to the Sweater Blue Face Hatch, when Sweater came from Oklahoma to work for Percy Flowers, he brought with him several hens, of the Whitehackle type that Mr. Hatch had brought with him several hens, of the Whitehackle type that Mr. Hatch had fought so successfully for many years at Troy, NY and other places. I do not know the breeding of those fowl, but apparently they were heavy in Whitehackle blood. As they were bright red in feather and carried white in their wings and tail. They were dead game fowl and won many battles after being severely injured. The only fault they had, they were inclined to be low headed.
Sweater was able to obtain a Blue Face cock from Mr. McLean and he mated this cock from Mr. McLean to some of the hens (Hatch hens) that he had brought with him to Mr. Percy Flowers place. This cock was known as Old Long Tail, as his streamer’ nearly reached the ground.
Sweater told Earl Mull, a close friend of mine, that one of his Hatch hens mated to Old Long /Tail, produced stags which held their heads high, and the offspring of this mating were his Blue Face.
I believe the offspring of this mating were probably the greatest fighting machines I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing, as I saw them win the Lally Memorial, in Scranton, PA on two different occasions, winning with a score of 9-1, and hundred of cockers throughout the country are fortunate enough to have winning fowl, which carry some Blue Face blood. (The Gamecock, October 1982)